Small Business Saturday Feature: White Owl Creek Boutique
November 8, 2017
White Owl, South Dakota is an old town in east central Meade County. The population was 61 on the 2010 census, so you'd expect it to be a "down home" place. The residents would agree. Wikipedia says, "The village has a fashion boutique and a post office…."
If the words "fashion boutique" in a town claiming less than a hundred citizens piques the curiosity, potential shoppers will likely find that White Owl Creek Boutique's offerings scream "LA" or "NYC" more than they chuckle "down home."
The earthy backgrounds, delicate wildflowers and brilliant sunset colors of the surrounding prairie are reflected in the fabrics. Embroidery and laces that would've delighted homesteading ladies who picked up their mail at the White Owl Creek Post Office in the early 1900s embellish many of the styles. But that's where "down home" ends and "fashion chic" begins.
The lady who instigated all this glamour is ranch wife and mother Ann Shaw. She began subsidizing her family's fourth-generation working cattle ranch income via her hair and nail salon in 2002. She set up shop two miles away, in White Owl, which she describes as "just a precious town…a Post Office, where I ship all my packages, a church, a cemetery, and a hall that is used for special occasions like voting, bridal and baby showers, and even funerals."
Ann goes on to say, "A tiny blink and you will miss it, but we love it here…proud to be part of America's heartland, raising food for your table and working hard, despite all odds." In 2011 Ann expanded her nail and hair salon with some jewelry and purses. Customers liked those things, and her entrepreneurial spirit soon decided to develop a fullblown boutique. After all, that rhymes with White Owl Creek – and any place that names itself that easily is certainly meant to be!
She's ably assisted by beautiful daughters Katie and Kylie who stay svelte by playing on Sturgis Brown High School's varsity volleyball team.
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Whenever the girls are modeling the collection Ann describes as "modern fashion with prairie chic flare and a touch of vintage wanderlust" for the boutique's online catalog, they shine among natural props like tall prairie grass and wildflowers, rocks and trees, weathered barns and fences, rusty farm machinery and vintage cars offer backdrops to excite any fashion photographer!
Both daughters help pack and display and sell at venues away from home. Katie is incorporating business with a school project requiring students to start a project from scratch and carry it through.
"She picked out several different outfits and ordered them, has displayed them and worked on marketing and sales to complete that," Ann explains. "Kylie, also attending Sturgis Brown High School, is a top hand setting up when they travel to other venues, helping customers, finding out their needs and wants," the proud mom says.
Just as Ann and the girls help with cattle, horses and ranch work, Les – the husband and dad of the family – helps them. As Ann puts it, "Les is a major part of my success. We are a team, and we couldn't do any of this without helping each other."
The entire family also knows they couldn't do it without faith in God. Says Ann: "We often gauge success on accomplishments. This year I gauge mine on Faith. Without it I would be nowhere."
The Shaw ladies turn White Owl Creek Boutique into a road show several times a year, marketing at rodeos and other events around the region including the South Dakota high school rodeo finals, Northwest Ranch Cowboys Association finals and more. Ann and the clan extend a personal invitation to attend their combined Open House, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday event on Sunday, November 19th from 2 – 7 pm. Ann says, "Whether you shop online or make the trip in person, we promise you won't be disappointed. Follow us on FB, IG and Pinterest – and check out our website at http://www.whiteowlcreekboutique.com."